EXCLUSIVE! No Fact Zone audio interview with J.J. Sedelmaier

Listen to the No Fact Zone EXCLUSIVE interview with J.J. Sedelmaier here!! (37 Minutes)

J.J. Sedelmaier has had a prolific career, and his influence has touched pop culture for almost two decades. This interview with Sedelmaier takes us through his career, from his college job at a Greek restaurant, to the beginning of his career in the early 1980’s animating “Strawberry Shortcake” cartoons, to his work with Robert Smigel and his many different adventures with Stephen Colbert.

Learn how he helped Stephen to get his job on “Harvey Birdman”, and the original concept behind Tek Jansen’s hair. The stories this man tells are amazingly fun and very interesting indeed.

You might also want to check out these links, featuring more information about Sedelmaier and videos of Sedelmaier’s work featuring Stephen Colbert:


  1. Great interview, DB.
    He’s really an interviewer’s dream, no? Very generous with some great stories.

    As much fun as it was to hear about Stephen related projects, what he told about his early career said a lot about finding the best in any situation – even if you’re drawing Strawberry Shortcake cartoons!

  2. ColbertGirl27 says:

    What a FASCINATING interview DB! I loved hearing how his work experience at the Greek restaurant served him well in later managing his studio.

    Can we see the Episcopal church advertisement somewhere? That was a really fascinating story!

    Mr. Sedelmaier, thank you for taking the time to speak to NFZ!

  3. wildlymissingthemark says:

    that was a great interview. i liked the part about stephen impersonating al gore. would have loved to hear that phone conversation!

  4. that was an excellent interview! no surprise that Mr Sedelmaier is very articulate, and he seems to have been involved with everything!

    last night I was watching the first episode of SWC with commentary and Amy said she liked the pictures intro better than the animated one. Stephen defended it (or at least explained it) by pointing out how it freed Jerri from having to tell her life story at the beginning of every episode. this seemed to fit in perfectly with what was described in the interview. plus, I love the animated opening! it really suits the show well!

    also, I liked the narrative about him working hard on his art and also learning through his job at the restaurant. it’s interesting to see how very skilled people become to be so good at their craft.

    thanks to both parties in this interview! it was a great listen. :D

    PS. ever since I found out the spartina was a plant native to the area where Stephen grew up, I have felt a little deficient for not knowing the names of any plants from my own region! kids these days!

    • wildlymissingthemark says:

      the swc animated intro was not by mr. sedelmaier, it was done by another animator at the insistence of the network. they wanted to wanted make it a little clearer that the show was a light hearted comedy, i am guessing, which i also suppose was difficult at the time for viewers to understand.

      • I was just referring to how he and Stephen helped to make the connection to Sutton. they both expressed how the animation was important to set a tone for the show.

        the interview included nothing about the network insisting someone else do it, though, and I haven’t really looked into it. so that’s where my info came from.

      • Uhhh. . . maybe an anvil fell on my head and I imagined the whole thing ? The show’s producer called (I found out later, at Stephen’s suggestion) and asked if we’d be interested in doing the SWC opening titles. I’d recently become pals with Ward Sutton and suggested him as the designer because his caricatures were fun AND edgy – a good match with the sensibility of SWC. We storyboarded it, Tony Eastman animated it for me, and we saw it through to final. The only revisions were changing the principal’s suit from vintage to present day, and also fixing the final pose of Stephen’s face. . .

        • . . .and Sutton later went on to star in an episode of the show as a police sketch artist.

        • wildlymissingthemark says:

          yes, j.j., i was thinking of ward sutton, sketching jerri so perfectly on “hit and run,” my fave episode of swc. i would think jerri is hard to draw, the perpetual scowl on her face and all.
          you totally got me on that, but omigod you’re talking me! us! you are definitely an it-getter.
          say hi to mr. smigel for me, i am a big fan.
          and huge thanks for the ambiguously gay duo.

  5. Ms Interpreted says:

    Very cool! A huge thank you to Mr. Sedelmaier, both for finding the site and for being so generous in the interview. I could just picture so many of the scenes he was describing (the film festivals, the little details in the various animated sequences), and it was fascinating.

    I’ve often wondered how animators (and other visual artists, for that matter) feel about the more subtle details in their work; things like choosing a widescreen format over a fullscreen, how stylized a design should be, which font to use, etc. I think it’s those touches that can really make the difference between something that’s merely okay and something that’s great, yet if they’re done correctly, you don’t usually(consciously) notice them. Especially in comics and graphic novels, touches like that can be incredible (there’s a whole segment in the graphic novel introducing Neil Gaiman’s Books of Magic that plays with fonts very overtly; it noticeably adds to the story).

    I suppose that’s a long-winded way of saying I was very interested to hear about the decision-making that goes into even some of the smallest elements of the artistic designs.

    Thanks for satisfying my curiosity, Mr. Sedelmaier!

  6. great interview!!

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